Local Paralympian battles coronavirus while living abroad

Japan 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — With the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, athletes are facing new and different challenges.

As a two-time Paralympic athlete, Adam Ballou is used to tough situations, but even he was sidelined by the coronavirus.

For a Paralympic athlete with cerebral palsy, he faced an opponent unlike any other when he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

“I was laying down, hard to breathe. Sitting up, hard to breathe. Standing up, hard to breathe. I was like ‘what can I do?'” he said.

Ballou was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was six-months-old. He is a Virginia Beach native, and currently teaching English and playing club soccer in Spain.

He said the virus started with a fever.

“I started to cough and then my chest started to hurt, like there was something in my lungs, like there was a liquid,” said Ballou. “I would breathe in and I would wheeze.”

Ballou played on Team USA’s seven-per-side soccer team at both the London and Rio Paralympic Games.

The intensity of the virus surprised him.

“I’m 27, like I’m healthy, I’m an athlete,” Ballou said. “I shouldn’t have any problems kicking this thing, but you never know, so I was super nervous.”

Ballou says he’s feeling better, just dealing with a little bit of soreness in his lungs.

Seven-per-side soccer was cut from the Tokyo Paralympic games, so Ballou is focused on building up his strength again, and getting back on the soccer field in Spain.

“That mental toughness and just being physically fit, as an athlete, helped me prepare for this,” Ballou said.

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